Daniel Hale Williams

Daniel Hale Williams
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams

Born January 18, 1858(1858-01-18)
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Died August 4, 1931(1931-08-04) (aged 73)
Idlewild, Michigan, USA
Fields Cardiology
Institutions Provident Hospital
Meharry Medical College
Freedman's Hospital
St. Lukes Hospital
Cook County Hospital
Alma mater Chicago Medical College

Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858[1] – August 4, 1931) was an American surgeon. He was the first African-American cardiologist,and performed one of the first successful open-heart surgeries in the United States. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.[2][3]



Williams was among the first to have performed cardiac surgery. Earlier surgeries on the pericardium were performed by Francisco Romero in 1801, Dominique Jean Larrey prior to 1850, and by Henry Dalton in 1891.[4] Also in 1891, he started the Provident Hospital and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. This was established mostly for African-American citizens.[5] In 1893 he repaired the torn pericardium of a knife wound patient, James Cornish, the second on record.[4] He performed this surgery at Provident Hospital, Chicago, on 10 July 1893[6] About fifty-five days later, James Cornish had successfully recovered from the surgery.[5]

In 1893, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland, Williams was appointed surgeon-in-chief of Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C.. In addition to organizing the hospital, Williams also established a training school for African-American nurses at the facility.

Williams was a teacher of Clinical Surgery at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and was an attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He worked hard to create more hospitals for African Americans. In 1895 he co-founded the National Medical Association for African American doctors, and in 1913 he became a charter member and the only African American doctor in the American College of Surgeons.

Personal life

Daniel Hale Williams was born and raised in the city of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. His father, Daniel Hale Williams, Jr. was the son of an African-American barber and a Scots-Irish woman.[7] He lived with his father who was a "free negro" barber, his mother, a brother and five sisters. His family eventually moved to Annapolis, Maryland. Unfortunately, shortly after when Daniel was nine, his father died.[8] Williams was married in 1898 to Alice Johnson, daughter of sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel and a maid of mixed ancestry.[9] Williams died of a stroke in Idlewild, Michigan on August 4, 1931. His wife, Alice Johnson, died in 1924.[5]


Williams was honored, amongst others, for his achievements in the Stevie Wonder song "Black Man", from the album Songs in the Key of Life.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Daniel Hale Williams on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[10]

He received honorary degrees from Howard and Willberforce Universtities, was named a charter member of the American College of surgeons and was a member of the Chicago Surgical Society.

A Pennsylvania State Historical Marker was placed at US 22 eastbound (Blair St., 300 block), Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania commemorating his accomplishments and marking his boyhood home. [11]

See Also

Vivien Thomas


  1. ^ "Although a half dozen biographical dictionaries place Daniel Hale Williams's birth date in 1858, I use 1858, which is the date given in the U. S. Census records of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, for 1860 and of Janesville, Wisconsin, for 1880; these agree on 1856, and the former was given by his parents. Also when Dr. Dan registered officially with the Illinois State Board of Health as a physician, on April 18, 1883, he gave his age as twenty-eight. This too points to 1856, making him at his registration twenty-seven years and three months old, or in his twenty-eighth year." Buckler, Helen Daniel Hale Williams: Negro Surgeon Pitman Publishing Company 1954 pp287-288. Full text at http://www.archive.org/stream/danielhalfwillia013550mbp/danielhalfwillia013550mbp_djvu.txt
  2. ^ "Williams, Daniel Hale". Adoptions.com. 9 February 2007. http://famous.adoption.com/famous/williams-daniel-hale.html. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (2008). "Reference Room: Daniel Hale Williams". African American World. PBS. Archived from the original on 2008-06-29. http://web.archive.org/web/20080629083926/http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/reference/articles/daniel_hale_williams.html. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  4. ^ a b Shumacker, Harris B. (1992). The Evolution of Cardiac Surgery. Indiana University Press. p. 12. http://books.google.com/books?id=xtEIeqY8dn8C&pg=PA12&sig=sOHygc4IS04txYqsYvnKFNb9LE0. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  5. ^ a b c "Daniel Hale Williams". Black Inventor Online Museum. http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/danielwilliams.html. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  6. ^ "History: Provident Hospital- The Provident Foundation". The Provident Foundation. 2008. http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/index.html. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  7. ^ Bigelow (1992), p. 254
  8. ^ "http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/williams.html, First Open Heart Surgeon". History: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. http://www.providentfoundation.org/history/williams.html. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  9. ^ Washington, Booker Taliaferro; Harlan, Louis R. (ed.) (1907). The Booker T. Washington Papers. vol.9: 1906-1908 (The Open Book edition ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. p. 396,. OCLC 58644475. http://www.historycooperative.org/btw/Vol.9/html/396.html. 
  10. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.
  11. ^ http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM426N_Daniel_Hale_Williams


  • Bigelow, Barbara Carlisle, Contemporary Black biography: profiles from the international Black community, Gale Research Inc., 1992, ISBN 0810385546

Further reading

  • Yenser, Thomas (1933). Who's Who in Colored America: 1930-1931-1932. Brooklyn: T. Yenser. OCLC 26073112. 
  • Buckler, Helen (1968). Daniel Hale Williams: Negro Surgeon. New York: Pitman. OCLC 220544784. 

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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